by Jakob Cole and Peter Gobeille
At the end of the College football regular season, the College football selection committee has selected the top four teams that were selected for the second College Football Playoff. The teams, ranked 1-4, were Clemson, Alabama, Michigan State and Oklahoma. The first semifinal will be in Miami, Florida, between #1 Clemson vs. #4 Oklahoma. The second semifinal, located in Dallas, Texas, will be between #2 Alabama and #3 Michigan State.
Clemson: The Clemson tigers were the only FBS team to finish the regular season with an undefeated 13-0 record, earning them the number one seed in the college football playoff. The tigers were able to gain notable wins over ranked opponents such as #8 Notre Dame, #9 Florida State and win over #10 UNC in the ACC championship game. The team has been lead by Heisman trophy finalist, ACC offensive player of the year and winner of the Davey O’Brien award (given to the nation’s best quarterback) Deshaun Watson, who has thrown for 3,412 yards and rushed for 887 and gotten to the back of the endzone 41 times. Watson will be a key to the success of the tigers in the playoff. “He’s the best player on the best team in the country, playing the most difficult position on the field.” said ESPN writer David McHale.
Alabama: Outside of a early year stumble to Ole Miss, the crimson tide have been dominant in their performances this season. Under the leadership of Nick Saban, a winner of four national championships, Alabama is once again a title contender. This year the team is lead by Derrick Henry, who has rushed for SEC record 1,986 yards and won a number of offensive awards such as the Doak Walker, Maxwell and Walter Camp awards.. The tide is also stacked on defense with Defensive Tackle A’shawn Robinson and Middle Linebacker Reggie Ragland, giving the team the 3rd ranked defense in the country.
Michigan State: The Spartans jumped up to the three seed after a close 16-13 win over Iowa in the Big Ten conference championship. Michigan state team has had their fair share of close calls this season, the most notable being a game winning blocked punt returned for a touchdown as time expired against in state rival Michigan. Looking back at the miracle win, it is the reason that the Spartans are in the position they are in and in the college football final four.
Oklahoma: While the Oklahoma team didn’t have a conference championship game to play in, they were still able to maintain their spot in the CFP. The team has one of the most explosive offenses in the country, lead by quarterback Baker Mayfield, running back Samaje Perine and wideout Sterling Shepard. This trio has lead a boomer sooner offense that ranks at the top of the nation in points per game, averaging 45.3. The production of this offense will be crucial in getting Oklahoma their 8th national championship title.
Clemson vs Oklahoma: This game brings together two very well coached teams and brings together two very talented teams. The #8 ranked Clemson offense, lead by dual threat quarterback Deshaun Watson, has a good match-up against a sooner defense that ranked 30th in the nation. On the other side, there will be a close match-up up between the 10th ranked Oklahoma offense and the 13th ranked Clemson defense. These teams also met in last years Russell Athletic bowl, a game in which Clemson dominated, beating the Sooners 40-6.
Alabama vs Michigan State: Coming into this match-up, all the numbers point towards a one-sided victory for the Crimson Tide. The tide, who have held teams to only 14.4 points per game, will be up against an offense that ranks 47th in points per game and doesn’t rank in the top 19 in any other team category. Not to mention that the Spartans will have to stop Heisman trophy front runner Derrick Henry. Even with the tide seemingly going against Michigan State coming into the game, the Spartans have gone this entire season without any pretty performances, seemingly always rising to the occasion and finding a way to win.